WSLCB Approves Lottery Process for Retail Pot Shops

The Washington State Liquor Control Board announced via email last week that the lottery process for licensing retail pot shops has been approved. The lottery drawing begins on Monday, April 21st and will continue for the rest of that week. The lottery will produce a list of successful applicants that the WSLCB will use in continuing the retail licensing process. The Board expects that the first retail licenses will be issued no later than the first week of July.

Initiative 502 charged the WSLCB with limiting the number of retail marijuana stores by county, and the agency settled on a total of 334 retail establishments across the state.  The most populated cities will be allotted a maximum number of stores, with any additional to be spread across the rest of the county.

In the event that there are more applicants than there are licenses allocated to a region, the state will use another lottery system for ranking the applicants. The WSLCB has arranged for the Economic Sciences Research Center of Washington State University and the accounting firm for Washington’s Lottery, Kraght-Snell of Seattle, to independently manage lotteries in counties where necessary.

The Board warned that even those selected as successful applicants are not guaranteed to receive a license: “There are multiple requirements for licensure such as the applicant must pass a criminal history and financial investigation as well as have a location that is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other area specified by Initiative 502 as places where children congregate,” the email said.

Interested entrepreneurs had the option to apply for pre-qualification during the weekend of Feb. 21-23, 2014.  According to the Board,

“Applicants had 30 days to return the basic documents necessary to be eligible for the lottery including verification of: their personal criminal history, their age being 21 or older, that they are Washington State residents, that their business was formed in Washington State, and that they have a location address with a right to real property. A letter of intent to lease was acceptable to be eligible for the lottery.”

The WSLCB licensing staff is still reviewing the applicants, though they did note that “despite repeated notices and reminders to applicants, roughly 25 percent did not return the required documents at all. Of the returned packets, anywhere between 20-50 percent are incomplete, thus disqualifying them from the retail lottery.”

In Colorado, the state has allowed retail cannabis establishments since January 1st. The state government there reportedly raised a grand total of $2.4 million in marijuana tax revenue during its first month of legalization, with an additional $1.4 million in medical marijuana taxes. The Washington government predicted at I-502’s passing that it would receive nearly $2 billion in state revenue through to the fiscal year of 2017, but predictions about the cannabis industry have notoriously been confusing: like that one time when Washington officials thought that state residents smoked half as much weed as they actually do.


Photo Credit: Brett Levin

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